Welcome Back, Carter

I mentioned in my last post that environmentalist policies have been a major driver of the energy crisis that's currently eating up Europe. We are now beginning to see the same dynamic play out in North America.

West Texas Intermediate crude, America's oil benchmark, is trading at just under $80 per barrel, double what it was a year ago. Average gasoline prices in the U.S. are at their highest point in seven years. After years of having to compete with lean, mean North American resource companies, OPEC is back in the driver's seat and enjoying profits that come at the expense of American and Canadian producers who have been cursed (by their own customers, no less) with environmentalist governments. Justin Trudeau actually got reelected on the promise to continue to increase taxes on heat and energy in a cold country just before the winter. (Not that his opponent even attempted to hold him accountable). Joe Biden was cagier about his actual plans while campaigning, but the pledges were there for those that had ears to hear.

The nations of OPEC, whatever their other problems, have a better instinct for self-preservation than that.

But even with their green bona fides, Biden and Trudeau can't catch a break from Team Gaia. Despite a looming energy crisis, the eco-warriors are refusing to back down in their battle against Enbridge Line 5. The pipeline, which brings petroleum products from Alberta to Ontario by way of Michigan, has been the subject of protests and a simmering legal dispute with Michigan's Governor, Gretchen Whitmer. Here's what I wrote about the stakes in this fight back in May:

Some 540,000 barrels of Canadian oil and natural gas pass through Line 5 every day, between 40 and 50 percent of Ontario and Quebec's total supply.... It has been referred to as the “spinal cord of Ontario’s infrastructure,” and through Ontario, to Quebec and points further east as well. A shutdown would have devastating consequences for consumers in eastern Canada, leading to fuel shortages and price spikes. And then there's the effect on employment -- the government of Ontario estimates that killing Line 5 would cost that province 5,000 jobs directly and indirectly almost 25,000. Whitmer's own constituents would be effected as well -- half of the propane used to heat homes in Michigan passes through Line 5, and a great deal of oil bound for Ohio and Pennsylvania besides. But that's nothing like the effect a shutdown would have on Canada's two largest provinces.

All of that is still true, but this is running a lot hotter than was expected back then because we're seeing "fuel shortages and price spikes" as well as depressed employment numbers while Line 5 is still up and running!

Consequently, the Trudeau government have now invoked the Transit Pipeline Treaty of 1977 in court with the hope of sidestepping the local authorities in Michigan so they can begin negotiating directly with the Biden Administration about the future of Line 5. But who knows if that will improve the situation? After all, the same activists who have Gov. Whitmer's ear also have powerful friends in the White House, and then president hasn't exactly shied away from screwing over our neighbors to the north.

It's become almost a cliché to say the 1970s are back, what with rising crime, stagflation, and especially an energy crisis, while a feckless liberal president blames everyone but himself. But as John Robson has pointed out, what we're going through now is worse in one important respect:

[A]t least in the 1970s it was done by accident, through policies that achieved the opposite of what their architects hoped and expected. This one is deliberate. They said they would get rid of fossil fuels, mocked those who protested that it would cause economic disaster, and now that it is they’re doubling down. They really mean it.

We're getting a glimpse of the future they've been planning. If we don't change course, it's going to get a lot worse.

Trudeau Holds On and Other Election Notes

Just an update on yesterday's election in Canada, where the vote count is still ongoing, but the result is more or less determined -- it looks like it will be a Liberal minority government... just like last time. It is, in fact, hard to overstate how like last time it is:

Two quick notes to follow-up on my election article this past weekend.

First, it's nice to see the enviro-activist Tory insiders I mentioned --  Ken Boessenkool, Mark Cameron, and Howard Anglin -- wind up with egg on their faces. Their solution to the outcome of the 2019 election, when the CPC picked up the vast majority of seats west of Ontario, winning the national popular vote but losing overall, was to encourage the party to "Go Green," with the intention of flipping seats in the Greater Toronto Area. Well, the Conservatives went all in on their advice, and even so it looks like the Liberals have once again swept the GTA. Nice work, fellas.

Second, as Holly Doan points out, current estimates peg turnout at less than 59 percent of eligible voters, lowest in Canadian history and about 8 percent lower than the 2019 election. Some of this is Covid anxiety of course, but even so, this suggests a dispirited electorate, unhappy with the options available to them. Not that we should be surprised by this -- The Toronto Star reported a few days ago that Conservative campaigns were seeing a notable lack of enthusiasm, especially in Ontario, where some ridings were unable to attract more than a handful of volunteers. For all of the belly-aching about the populist People's Party of Canada splitting the vote and tipping right-of-center seats to the Liberals, had the CPC given voters a reason to go to the polls for them, they could probably have sent Trudeau packing.

In my piece I suggested an approach or two that might have been successful -- namely really representing the views of their base rather than running from them and pushing back on the Liberals' environmental policies for the pain they cause the average Canadian. This approach might still work in the future, especially as Trudeau's policies continue to damage the economy and slow recovery, post-Covid. But I don't think Erin O'Toole is capable of making that case.

My advice to the Tories would be: give old Erin the boot, tear the party down to the studs (a different kind of Great Reset, if you will), and start over by playing to your strengths. It isn't like you've got much to lose.

The Coming Viral Dictatorship

A pivotal feature of dictatorial regimes is the institutional lie, expressed as an unfounded message of millennial hope, an ever-changing set of legislated policies, and the tendency of authoritarian leaders to violate their own axioms and edicts. We see this happening before our eyes as a Covid-19 tyranny takes root on our own soil.

The manifold inconsistencies and deceptions that circulate regarding the draconian mandates and coercive measures imposed by Big Government to combat the Covid pandemic should by now have alerted the public to their suspicious nature. We have observed the extent to which these ordinances are regularly flouted by the authorities, who have been seen without their masks, disregarding social distancing rules, and travelling during lockdowns. Such exemptions are obviously a privilege reserved only to the elites, who do not scruple to lecture us on the current proprieties.

One popular slogan that we meet everywhere, on radio and TV, on the Internet, and emblazoned on ubiquitous signage, is particularly irritating: “We’re All In This Together.” Clearly, we are not. While small business owners and entrepreneurs struggle with bankruptcy as their establishments are closed down, Big Box stores operate at full capacity, teachers retain handsome salaries while refusing to enter their classrooms, government personnel continue to be paid in absentia, and politicians suffer no loss of ample remuneration.

This means you.

Weddings, church services, funerals, social gatherings, holiday celebrations and anti-lockdown protests are either curtailed or banned to prevent proximity transmission of the virus; BLM demonstrations involving thousands of people cheek-by-jowl agitating for “social justice” are permitted and encouraged. Doctors are here to serve their patients; now many have embraced telemedicine, which does not impact their fees as it does their effectiveness. Diagnosis at a distance is not reliable medicine, though it is lucrative medicine. The overall hypocrisy that confronts us at every level of political, corporate and professional society is so blatant as to be unbelievable—except it is entirely believable. We are manifestly not in this all together, not by a long shot.

Another sedative to which we are constantly exposed is the official platitude that the mandates under which we malinger are intended “to protect public health and safety.” The collateral effects of this faux campaign have, in fact, endangered public health and safety. The category of “excess deaths” owing to delayed medical procedures for cancer, Alzheimer's, heart ailments and diabetes, among other conditions, including critical stress, depressive suicides, and adverse reactions and deaths linked to the Covid vaccines now arguably surpass Covid morbidity numbers—which themselves appear to have been grossly inflated. Indeed, in a crowning irony, the virus may itself be “boosted” by iatrogenic interventions. One need only consult virologist and immunologist Robert Malone, the actual inventor of the mRNA vaccines, who warns against them as Covid-19 suppressants. 

We were assured that vaccine passports were the route to “public health and safety” and that life would soon be back to normal. Now triple vaxxing, masks and renewed lockdowns have become mandatory in many jurisdictions and nations. The temptation to blame and penalize the unvaccinated for any upsurge of “cases” is spreading and may easily translate into second-class status for the unvaccinated and a policy of forced internment. 

But who are the “unvaccinated”?  Israel’s Director of the Ziv Medical Center Dr. Salman Zarka admits that the definition is changing: “We are updating what it means to be vaccinated.” In the absence of a third jab (and counting), even the double-vaxxed fall into the category of “unvaccinated.” As Kit Knightly writes in off-guardian, “Israel is the petri dish”; if it works there, the rest of the world will follow suit. Of course, in another sense of the phrase, it doesn’t really “work there.” A multi-sourced chart published in the Financial Times, comparing over-vaxxed Israel to under-vaxxed Egypt, provides a sobering metric. Egypt is doing at least an order of magnitude better than Israel. Equally distressing, on August 22 West Virginia governor Jim Justice reported a 26 percent surge among the fully vaccinated and a 25 percent increase in vaccinated deaths. This surely is not a one-off.

Where do you think you're going?

It should be obvious by this time that we are dealing with a vast shell game. In an open letter to the Canadian Minister of Health, McGill University theology professor Douglas Farrow argues, correctly, that vaccine mandates are incoherent. That is surely the right word. Masks were supposed to keep us safe. They didn’t do very well, so the first jab was introduced, which should have offered immunity. Then came a second jab, followed by a third and counting. Then came the vaccine passports. Meanwhile, as noted, double-and-triple-jabbed Israelis are still fighting infection and transmission and have now even been refused entry to Portugal and to open, prosperous Sweden.

It is no surprise, at least among the concerned, that distrust is growing of our health authorities, the political class and the collusive “misleadia,” assiduously promoting a medical dogma that is plainly muddled, deceptive and hypocritical. It is also, to put it bluntly, totalitarian.

The next step is the construction of quarantine or internment camps, as currently planned in Australia. Similarly, in the U.S. the CDC has proposed a “shielding approach” that would establish “a group of shelters such as schools, community buildings within a camp/sector…where high-risk individuals (the unvaccinated) are physically isolated together.” As if this weren’t plain enough, the proposal states that “High-risk individuals would be temporarily relocated to safe or ‘green zones’ established at the household, neighborhood, camp/sector or community level… They would have minimal contact with family members and other low-risk residents.” 

Meanwhile, the National Guard is in process of hiring “internment resettlement specialists” to supervise detention operations and “provide guidance to individual prisoners.” It is not clear from the explanatory description what this program precisely entails, but it doesn’t augur well. On August 6, 2021, governor Bill Lee of Tennessee signed an executive order authorizing involuntary internment of targeted citizens, under the convenient designation of “regulatory flexibilities.”

Not to be outdone, the Department of Homeland Security claims that those resisting the vaccines pose a “potential terror threat.” If you oppose the vaccines, you are an “extremist.” The document is very clear: “These extremists may seek to exploit the emergence of COVID-19 variants by viewing the potential re-establishment of public health restrictions across the United States as a rationale to conduct attacks.” Bill HR 4980 currently before Congress would place unvaccinated persons on a No-Fly list and lead inexorably to a No-Buy gun control law. A No-Buy gun list would prevent people from arming themselves. As they say, you have been warned.

Welcome to Australia.

My own country of Canada marches in lockstep with the heavily mandated nations of Israel, the U.K. and, of course, Australia and parts of the U.S. According to NaturalNews, the Canadian government has ordered enough vaccines to inoculate every man, woman and child many times over for the next three years, having stockpiled 293 million doses for a population of 38 million. The report continues: Just months ago, the Covid-19 vaccines were hailed as a ‘miracle of science’ that were putting an ‘end to the pandemic’… But now the narrative has changed” and we can expect more censorship, travel restriction, contact tracing, deprivation of human rights, dodgy testing, and mask and vaccine mandates. The fear is that even supermarkets may eventually be placed off limits for the unvaccinated, forcing one to rely on doorstep deliveries. 

As we’ve seen, this despotic program is being implemented in the name of “protecting public health and safety.” It appears, rather, as if it is being put in practice to create a system of “vaccine enslavement” and authoritarian control. Our Prime Minister, after all, is on record as admiring the “basic dictatorship” of Communist China.

What next? One shudders to think. Where next? Who's next?

But Is O'Toole Any Better?

The Canadian Federal election is taking place on September 20th, and it seems harder than usual to follow what is going on up there. Recent polling suggests that the Conservatives and Liberals are more or less neck-and-neck, with the NDP pulling in third as expected, but with a surprisingly strong 20 percent share of the projected vote. Why so close? Well, it's partly because of the nature of the contemporary Canadian electorate -- the 2019 election, at least by popular vote, was a nail-biter as well. But it is also likely because the basic positioning of the major parties are so similar that you'd need to be a scholastic philosopher to determine the difference between them.

This should come as no surprise as far as two of those parties are concerned. The brains behind current prime minister Justin Trudeau, knowing well that the resurgence of the NDP was key to Stephen Harper's electoral victories in the early aughts, have continued moving leftward to prevent Jagmeet Singh's iteration of the party from bringing about a similar result. And, anyway, two leftwing parties jockeying for position as the true party of the left is so commonplace as to be almost not worth commenting upon.

But a notionally right-of-center party doing so? That's the puzzler.

O'Toole: Maybe inject some principles while you're at it.

Erin O'Toole won last summer's race for Conservative leader running as "True Blue O'Toole," a patriotic military man who was going to take the fight to Justin Trudeau. But ever since, he's gone out of his way to remake the CPC in his own Red Tory image. According to Gary Mason, in a column entitled 'Erin O'Toole is changing Canadian conservatism as we know it,'

[B]ehind the scenes, there was always a plan to change the direction the party would head in during an election if [O'Toole] became leader – the direction many believed offered the only path to victory.

Mason continually praises O'Toole's sagacity in eschewing the positions of his base on issues like abortion, guns, conscience protections for healthcare workers, and environmentalism; and his overall willingness to adopt stances more acceptable in polite society. Says Mason, a "Conservative Party headed by Erin O’Toole would be in step with the times. Full stop." But it's striking that the supposedly up-to-date positions he describes, purportedly to appeal to the same type of alienated, working-class voters who made Brexit a reality, are in fact the characteristic views of the Laurentian Elite.

Peter MacKay famously blamed the party's loss in 2019 on the "stinking albatross" of social conservatism hanging about its neck, but for Erin O'Toole the albatross seems to be conservatism itself.

Environmentalism is our focus here at The Pipeline, and on that score O'Toole's drift has been particularly egregious. One of the Tory insiders that Mason quotes praising the party's lurch leftward is Ken Boessenkool, who has been arguing for years that the only way conservatives will ever again take power is if they sell out Canada's oil and gas producing provinces by embracing carbon taxation and other extreme (and pointless) regulations in order to win over voters in the Greater Toronto Area (GTA). O'Toole has taken this advice, and the advice of other Tory insiders, like Mark Cameron, former head of the environmentalist pressure group Canadians for Clean Prosperity, now a deputy minister in the government of Alberta.

During his leadership campaign O'Toole signed a pledge saying,

I, Erin O’Toole, promise that, if elected Prime Minister of Canada, I will: Immediately repeal the Trudeau carbon tax; and, reject any future national carbon tax or cap-and-trade scheme.

But after he'd won, O'Toole released a document entitled 'Secure the Environment: The Conservative Plan to Combat Climate Change,' which begins "Canada must not ignore the reality of climate change. It is already affecting our ecosystems, hurting our communities, and damaging our infrastructure."

To combat climate change, O'Toole promised that, should he form a government, he would 1) implement his own Carbon Tax, one that's less onerous than the Liberal version, but which could be increased if market conditions make doing so feasible. 2) "Finalize and improve" the Trudeau government's Clean Fuel Standard (also known as the second carbon tax), 3) enact an electric vehicle mandate and invest billions of tax-payer dollars in EV manufacture and infrastructure, which includes, 4) update the national building code such that all buildings will have "mandatory charging stations or wiring required for chargers", 5) reduce emissions in line with the Paris Climate Accords by 2030 and achieving Net-Zero emissions by 2050. And on and on.

That's not just a flip-flop, that's an atomic belly flop.

Coming your way, Canada.

But are these moves necessary to win? Mason quotes Howard Anglin, former Chief of Staff to both Harper and Jason Kenney, as saying "[t]he first challenge that any Canadian conservative party must confront is that Canada is not a conservative country." Maybe. But I can't help hearing in that sentiment the predictions of impending "permanent Democratic majorities" we've been hearing about in the U.S. for the last 40 years. My own theory is that Canadians are rarely presented with a serious conservative alternative to the Trudeaupianism they've been force-fed since the '60s.

Here's just one example of how the Tories might have approached this election differently -- Dan McTeague of Canadians for Affordable Energy recently pointed out that the exploding price of housing has been a major issue in this election, but there has been little mention of the other factors making life in Canada increasingly expensive.

Once someone has a place to live, they are going to need to cool it in the summer and heat it in the winter. They will need electricity to cook and store their food... All of this, of course, takes energy... Every major Canadian political party is committed to at least Net Zero emissions by the year 2050. I have written extensively about how this leads to skyrocketing energy prices. Yet, amid all the talk about housing affordability no one in Canada seems to be saying much about energy affordability.

Policies like carbon taxation are always sold by the Liberals as affecting "Big Polluter" mega-corporations, but in fact they do real harm to ordinary people, both when they 're hit with the tax directly at the pump or paying their heating bill, or indirectly when the price for everything else goes up. Canadians are very sensitive to those pocketbook issues, probably even more so than Americans. Energy affordability could have been a winning issue for the CPC, with the winter months approaching and more than a year of accumulated pandemic-related economic anxiety weighing on people's minds. Instead they chose to go Liberal-lite, a move which rarely, if ever, works.

Still, I do appreciate arguments like those of former Conservative MP and minister Joe Oliver, whose recent endorsement of O'Toole for PM said:

[Trudeau] has exploited the pandemic to set the country on a path of unsustainable spending and intrusive government. Four more years galloping toward a dystopian Great Reset would make it exceptionally challenging for a new government to arrest, let alone reverse, that dire fate.

But I can't help but notice that Oliver's argument -- that Trudeau is awful and Canada just needs him gone -- is only for O'Toole by default.  Maybe that will be enough, and Trudeau fatigue will carry O'Toole over the finish line. But such a strategy just failed spectacularly in the California recall election, leaving Gov. Gavin Newsom in an even stronger position to torture the Golden State than he was before. Canada is likely to experience the same fate.

Gretchen Whitmer in the Enbridge Pipeline Wonderland

The drama surrounding Enbridge Inc.'s Line 5 is getting tense. Michigan's governor, Gretchen Whitmer, has ordered the Calgary-based energy company to cease operating the pipeline by May 12th. Enbridge has vowed to defy that order, which it insists Whitmer has no authority to issue, and await a legal judgement. Whitmer's office has declared that "Enbridge’s continued operation of the Line 5 pipelines in the Straits of Mackinac [after May 12th] would be unlawful." Enbridge executive vice-president Vern Yu shot back, “We will not stop operating the pipeline unless we are ordered by a court or our regulator, which we view as highly unlikely."

Tempers are clearly running hot, and they have been for months. Back in November, Whitmer fulfilled a campaign promise by revoking the easement -- first granted in 1953 -- which has allowed Enbridge to operate a pipeline along the bottom of the Straits of Mackinac en route to refineries in Sarnia, Ont., arguing that any rupture in the line could devastate the ecosystems of two Great Lakes -- Lakes Michigan and Huron.

Line 5 has never had a significant leak in its nearly seventy-year history, but even so Enbridge had already proposed a solution to this potential problem -- a replacement pipeline to be laid beneath the riverbed and encased in concrete, with the object of safeguarding the straits. This was too little, too late for Whitmer and her fellow environmentalists, who pointed out that the proposed project would take years to complete.

Take that, Canada!

Some of that time, of course, is due to agencies in Whitmer's own administration dragging its feet about issuing permits and cheerfully adding extra regulatory hurdles. Most recently, the Michigan Public Service Commission, all of whose members are Whitmer appointees, decided that it was legitimate for them to take into account the environmental impact of the petroleum products the pipeline is transporting when deciding on the environmental impact of a new pipeline.

I'll say that again -- the commission is going to factor the future CO2 emissions of the oil and gas which pass through Line 5 into their decision about whether the pipeline itself poses a threat to the Great Lakes. Utterly insane, bringing to mind a certain tea party from the pen of Lewis Carroll:

Mad Hatter: Would you like a little more tea?
Alice: Well, I haven't had any yet, so I can't very well take more.
March Hare: Ah, you mean you can't very well take less.
Mad Hatter: Yes. You can always take more than nothing.”

Quite a lot is at stake in this dispute. Some 540,000 barrels of Canadian oil and natural gas pass through Line 5 every day, between 40 and 50 percent of Ontario and Quebec's total supply, including all of the jet fuel used at Toronto’s Pearson International Airport. It has been referred to as the “spinal cord of Ontario’s infrastructure,” and through Ontario, to Quebec and points further east as well. A shutdown would have devastating consequences for consumers in eastern Canada, leading to fuel shortages and price spikes. And then there's the effect on employment -- the government of Ontario estimates that killing Line 5 would cost that province 5,000 jobs directly and indirectly almost 25,000.

Whitmer's own constituents would be effected as well -- half of the propane used to heat homes in Michigan passes through Line 5, and a great deal of oil bound for Ohio and Pennsylvania besides. But that's nothing like the effect a shutdown would have on Canada's two largest provinces.

And that makes this a tricky situation for Canada's famed green prime minister, Justin Trudeau. As Rex Murphy has pointed out, for the Canadian left, environmentalism was always supposed to be an anti-Alberta project. Though cloaked in high-flung rhetoric about saving the planet, in Canada the Green Movement has often been a cat's paw of the left-of-center parties for preventing the conservatively inclined western provinces from capitalizing on their natural resources and enhancing their economic might. But, notes Murphy:

Line 5, is not a pipeline OUT of export-blockaded Alberta, heading to the U.S. and hoping for a better market. Line 5 is a pipeline INTO Ontario, and — as Robert Frost was good enough to supply the phrase — that “has made all the difference.”

The 2019 election definitively demonstrated that the Trudeau Liberals can remain in power with essentially zero support out west, but only if they pull big numbers in Ontario, Quebec, and the Maritimes. If, however, voters in those provinces, whose fuel bills have already swelled thanks to Trudeau's carbon taxes, suddenly see their gas prices jump by, say, 30 percent, coupled with related job losses in the tens of thousands, enough of them are going to flip to one of the other parties to boot Justin from power, no matter how hard the CPC appear to be trying to lose.

2019 election by province (Wikicommons)

Consequently, the Trudeau government is desperate for the Line 5 dispute to be resolved in their favor. According to Reuters:

Ottawa’s strategy... is to repeatedly raise the issue of Enbridge Inc.’s Line 5 with numerous U.S. counterparts — including Biden — to get them to pressure Michigan’s Democratic Governor Gretchen Whitmer to keep the pipeline open.

Trudeau has apparently spoken to Biden directly about Line 5 more than once, but with no public response from the president as of yet. And Whitmer's side seem disinclined to back down -- Whitmer ally Liz Kirkwood recently remarked that “[t]he Canadians are awfully silent about our shared responsibility to protect the Great Lakes." Consequently, the Canadian government has begun flirting with more drastic measures, including invoking the (never-before-used) 1977 Transit Pipelines Treaty, which states:

No public authority in the territory of either party shall institute any measures… which are intended to, or which would have the effect of, impeding, diverting, redirecting or interfering with in any way the transmission of hydrocarbon in transit.

Suffice it to say, this is far more than they ever did for Keystone XL. And, of course, that makes this a mess of their own making, at least in part. As I wrote at the time, there was "no obvious limiting principle" to the rationale for killing Keystone, and now the same vacuous arguments are being deployed against Line 5. Had Trudeau been willing to actually defend Canadian interests then, it's unlikely that he would have this problem now. Instead, he played politics while accepting a pat on the head from the global environmentalist crowd.

Well now he's on the receiving end while Gretchen Whitmer does the same thing. Trudeau deserves everything he gets. And it's tempting to say the same for the people of Ontario and Quebec. After all, they voted for him.

Erin O'Toole's Carbon Tax Flip-Flop

As I mentioned the other day Erin O'Toole has foolishly decided to flip-flop on the topic of Canada's carbon tax. And that's is the only way to describe this. While running for leader of the Conservative Party of Canada, O'Toole signed a pledge which read as follows:

I, Erin O’Toole, promise that, if elected Prime Minister of Canada, I will: Immediately repeal the Trudeau carbon tax; and, reject any future national carbon tax or cap-and-trade scheme.

That pledge, of course, was a big part of the reason that O'Toole beat out Peter MacKay for leadership. O'Toole appealed to the western provinces by calling MacKay a squish on resource issues. MacKay hit back, accusing O'Toole of secretly supporting the Trudeau climate agenda in one particularly heated debate. Here's Ezra Levant reluctantly commending MacKay for having O'Toole's number, and offering this conclusion on the current leader:

O’Toole supporting the carbon tax is disqualifying because he promised he wouldn’t, and he received support in return for that promise. So he’s untrustworthy. He’s a liar. It’s disqualifying because a carbon tax is a terrible idea, bad scientifically, bad economically.

He might have added that it specifically disqualifies him as a leader, since -- if reports from the Toronto Star and National Post are true -- his own caucus wasn't briefed on the change. “We all first heard about this from the CBC article,” one Tory M.P. told the Post. How can he ever have the confidence of parliament if he does things like this to his own members?

Of course, not everyone was upset by this development. Some were delighted. True North highlights this tweet from Trudeau crony Gerald Butts:

True North also points out a few notable and underdiscussed green goodies contained in the O'Toole proposal:

Other measures... include a study on “new taxes on frequent flyers, non-electric luxury vehicles and second homes to deter activities that hurt the environment.” A Conservative government would also spend $1 billion on domestic electric vehicle manufacturing and an additional $1 billion to deploy hydrogen technology.

Which is to say, he's all in.

Of course, O'Toole's counter to all of this is, first, that it is necessary for winning Ontario, and second, that at least his carbon tax is better than Trudeau's. I previously mentioned Dan McTeague's refutation of the first point. To the second, I would point to Derek Fildebrandt's argument in the Western Standard that the Tory plan is actually the worse of the two:

Under Trudeau’s plan, the federal government taxes consumers in provinces that do not have their own federally-approved carbon tax, and rebates a portion of it back to those consumers to spend as they see fit. Under O’Toole’s carbon tax, the federal government will impose a similar carbon tax, but instead of rebating it, will put into ‘green cards.' These green cards will be managed by a group of bankers appointed by O’Toole, and allow carbon taxpayers to spend the money collected on government-approved green purchases.... The real difference between the Trudeau carbon tax and the O’Toole carbon tax boils down to how taxpayers are allowed to spend the money collected from them. And on this front, Justin Trudeau’s plan is somehow, unambiguously better than O’Toole’s.

Several commentators think that this gamble will hurt the CPC's electoral prospects and O'Toole's career (Brian Platt mentions Patrick Brown as the nearest analogue, who outraged the conservative grassroots when he endorsed the carbon tax, so he had no one to back him up when other scandals arose, forcing him, finally, to resign). But the ever-cheerful sage Rex Murphy is concerned about its effects on the future of Canada itself:

The Conservatives are, if the rumours are true, about to enter an election, as a pale and timid version of the Liberal party, as near-partners to the NDP and the Greens. Out West voters will throw up their hands, sigh very deeply, stay at home, and really start thinking separation is the only way to go. Really, this policy is acid to Conservative support in the West and will, for some, force a rethink of their place in Confederation.

Back when O'Toole won the leadership race, I called on him to follow the advice of his fellow Ontarian, Shania Twain, to "dance with the one[s] that brought" him, meaning the Albertans and Saskatchewaners whose support gave him the 'W'. Instead, he's listened to the political consultant class who have long held that the path to Conservative victory is to copy the Liberals in every particular and to ignore the voters that they find embarrassing.

Well that choice seems to already be paying off... for Justin Trudeau. The latest polls suggest that, going into the rumored snap election to which Murphy alluded, Liberal support sits at 39 percent, six points above what they received in the 2019 General Election, which saw them barely hold on to power with a minority government. The Conservatives, meanwhile, are down seven points from the same election, at about 27 percent.

We tried to warn him.

Canadian 'Conservatives' Offer Carbon Tax

The CBC has gotten their hands on a copy of the Conservative Party of Canada's all new Climate Change plan, and boy are they excited:

After years of criticizing the Liberal carbon tax, the Conservative party is proposing a climate plan that also puts a price on carbon for consumers.... Under [Erin] O'Toole's plan... Canadians would pay a carbon levy, initially amounting to $20 per tonne of greenhouse gas emissions, every time they buy hydro-carbon based fuels, such as gas.... The Conservative party's carbon price... would increase over time to reach a maximum of $50 per tonne.

For comparison, Trudeau's carbon tax structure (not counting the Clean Fuel Standard, a second carbon tax in all but name) has the tax increasing $10 each year until it reaches $170 per ton in 2030.

The other notable provision of the plan is, frankly, bizarre. In the Liberal scheme, Canadians can have their carbon tax expenditures (the direct ones, not the indirect, cost of living ones) rebated back to them at tax time (more or less -- what would be the point if some of that money wasn't skimmed off the top?). In O'Toole's plan, tax revenue would be diverted directly into a "personal low carbon savings account" established for every Canadian, which could be accessed for expenditures "that help them live a greener life."

This reminds me of the old joke that a camel is a horse designed by a committee. "Personal low carbon savings accounts" are a camel if ever I saw one, and they'd be a nightmare to administer.

But that aside, is the 'Carbon Tax, but cheaper' play a wise one for O'Toole's Conservatives? Some smart politicos think so. Here, for instance, is Matt Gurney arguing that Canadians want to feel like their government is addressing climate change, but don't really want it to affect their lives in any way. In that case, a cheaper carbon tax might do the trick -- assuaging the consciences of enough voters in the eastern half of the country to make Erin O'Toole prime minister.

But I find Dan McTeague more convincing. By McTeague's reckoning, the O'Toole plan wouldn't merely cost the CPC a few  points of support out west, it would decrease their support in Ontario -- the big fish -- by as much as 10 percent! After all, Ontario made Doug Ford premier just three years ago on the strength of his opposition to the carbon tax. For every voter in the Greater Toronto Area who might give the CPC a second thought based on this plan, two or three more in the rest of the province might just stay home, disgusted.

That's just another way of saying 'Trudeau Majority."

Brown Contra Mundum

Last week I wrote about the Canadian Supreme Court's deciding that the carbon tax is constitutional, with particular focus on the majority decision, authored by Chief Justice Wagner. Today I would like to briefly point out the strong dissent by Justice Russell Brown.

In a notable contrast with the majority opinion, which is full of pearl clutching about the "existential threat" of climate change, Justice Brown focuses chiefly on the law itself.

[N]either the Attorney General nor the majority fairly or completely describes what the Act does.... they downplay significantly what [it] actually authorizes the [Federal government] to do, and ignore the detailed regulatory intrusion into matters of provincial jurisdiction [it] authorize[s]... The result is a permanent and significant expansion of federal power at the expense of provincial legislative authority ⸺ unsanctioned by our Constitution , and indeed, as I will explain, expressly precluded by it.

The majority, he avers, misapplies the Peace, Order and Good Government clause of the Constitution, which was intended to govern instances where provincial governments couldn't act because they lacked the jurisdiction. This law, however, "is premised on provincial legislatures having authority" to act, as it sets a minimum carbon pricing standard to which they must conform, or else be subject to a federal tax. This is not at all how Canadian government is supposed to work, and Brown describes it as a “new... supervisory model of Canadian federalism" which "rejects the Constitution and rewrites the rules of Confederation.”

Now, it could be argued that this doesn't matter. Trudeau got his carbon tax, the fight is over. But Brown's dissent is garnering some attention as a rare challenge to Canada's legal monoculture. Sean Speer says that Brown's dissents are becoming "an intellectual beachhead for a nascent conservative legal movement," similar to that which began in America in the 1980s, but which has never migrated north.

One criticism I received about Friday's blog post was that my shot at Stephen Harper's not reorienting Canada's judiciary was unfair, since there simply weren't enough conservative lawyers for him to appoint. Well, to his credit, Harper did appoint Brown, and if Speer is correct, his work is gaining recognition among young lawyers who recognize how shallow their country's constitutional jurisprudence generally is. Rome wasn't built in a day, and countercultural revolutions can take time.

In the meantime, here's hoping that Brown can help nurture the kind of a constitutional revival which Antonin Scalia did in the States. If so, maybe the next carbon tax case will go the other way.

In Canada, Nowhere to Run from Carbon Tax

In a 6-3 split decision issued this week, the Supreme Court of Canada ruled the Trudeau government's carbon tax constitutional. The majority decision, written by Chief Justice Richard Wagner, held that Ottawa could legally impose the tax on all provinces because of the Peace, Order and Good Government clause of Canada's constitution, which allows the federal government to legislate on matters of national concern on which provincial governments are unable to act. Justice Wagner assumes that "unable" can also mean "unwilling," and then leans heavily on the "concern." He writes,

This matter is critical to our response to an existential threat to human life in Canada and around the world.... [Climate change] is a threat of the highest order to the country, and indeed to the world... The undisputed existence of a threat to the future of humanity cannot be ignored.

Faced with this histrionic language, it is worth noting that Wagner was first appointed to the court by Conservative PM Stephen Harper, before he was made chief by Justin Trudeau. Just another example of Harper's failure to tilt the Canadian judiciary in a broadly conservative direction during his nine years in office. Trudeau's government isn't making the same mistake.

The National Post tries to put the majority's thinking in context, explaining that, for the carbon tax to achieve its declared goal of rescuing humanity from anthropogenic climate change, no province may be able to opt out, because of the danger "of carbon leakage, where an industry in a province with carbon pricing might just locate to a neighbouring province without it."

That is, if the tax is imposed only on provinces which support the Liberal government in Ottawa, then businesses hoping to avoid the tax might just move to places like Alberta and Saskatchewan, which don't. But couldn't that reasoning be extended further? Why wouldn't businesses look to relocate out of Canada altogether?

CPC leader Erin O'Toole made just this point, warning of the "same risk of leakage of jobs and investment” to the United States, the great boogie man of Canadian political discourse. But I am thinking of countries like China, which will happily accept the jobs that western virtue signalers no longer want in their own country. Of course, China doesn't have the same concerns about carbon emissions that are so common in the west, but for our environmentalists, "out of sight, out of mind" is a key principle.

In any event, it seems that the only hope that foes of the carbon tax have going forward is for the Conservatives to win an election and repeal the law. And they might soon get their shot. Hopefully they don't screw it up.

Whither Alberta—and the Rest of Canada?

It was a good deal all around. The Keystone XL pipeline, which “adds a branch connecting terminals in Hardisty, Alberta, and Steele City, Nebraska, through a shorter route using a larger diameter pipe,” was the safest and most efficient way to ship crude oil in measures of scale—some 830,000 barrels a day—to the United States. Its cancellation was Joe Biden’s first official act. At least 10,000 American jobs will be lost and another nail has been hammered into that territorial coffin called Alberta. A good deal for the time has become a bad prospect for the future.

The consensus is that Biden, following in the footsteps of Obama, is catering to his woke-progressivist base and its environmental extremism by deep-sixing America’s energy industries in favor of expensive and unreliable Green technology. Donald Trump Jr. has a different or collateral explanation for Biden’s precipitous action. It is a gift to Warren Buffet and other Democratic Party donors.

Expanding on the younger Trump's take, Lorie Wimble explains,

Their methods of transportation, from rail lines to semi-trucks, benefit from the diminished effectiveness of the pipeline. The oil will still come, but now it will have to be transported less efficiently and at higher cost to consumers… Blocking Keystone XL has nothing to do with the environment and everything to do with leftist megadonors.

Interestingly, climate change activists have tended to grow comparatively silent now that their president has promoted an energy alternative which is clearly more harmful to the environment than any conceivable state-of-the-art pipeline.

As NOQ notes,

Proponents championed [sic] that Keystone XL was going to be the cleanest pipeline project ever constructed while creating thousands of high-paying jobs. TC Energy partnered with four labor unions that would have generated $2 billion in earnings for U.S. workers. Plus, the company worked with five First Nations groups regarding equity.

But that still wasn't enough. The report goes on to point out that beyond a "black eye to the Trudeau government," this is "significant blow" to Jason Kenney's United Conservative Party. Kenney's government "invested $1.5 billion of taxpayer dollars in the project, plus about $6 billion in loan guarantees, to ensure KXL would be completed." Saskatchewan is also in the pickle jar, but Alberta is far deeper in the brine.

Canada’s PM Justin Trudeau has expressed pro forma “disappointment” with the cancellation, but Rex Murphy, Canada’s premier conservative columnist, does not see the debacle as a  “black eye” for Trudeau. Far from it. He suggests that the "honour' of Trudeau receiving Biden's first phone call as president is a "diplomatic quid pro quo perhaps for not making any noise over the slashing of Alberta’s prime industry.” Murphy poses the question of the hour to the rest of Canada:

Justin, it's for you.

If you allow the savaging of our economy, if you ignore what we in Alberta have contributed to you during the good times, if you side with rabid environmentalism, pour on carbon taxes and fuel emission standards, if you bar every effort to build even one damn pipeline: Why are we in this thing?”

He concludes: “And you know what ‘this thing’ refers to.”

This thing, of course, is Confederation, and although Murphy does not use the word, the only option, in the absence of a complete “re-imagining” of the country along fair and rational lines, is secession. For the situation in which Alberta now find itself cannot go on indefinitely. If a reasonable accommodation with the federal government is not forthcoming, a tectonic shift in political and national alignments will become necessary. 

There will be many problems, of course. As I’ve written before, there are too many Canadians and not enough Albertans in the province; the ratio will have to change and a Wexit party will have to replace the current, pro-federalist Conservative administration. Perhaps a third of the population is puckered for divorce, which is a promising start. But if Alberta follows the Quebec model, secession will take 50 percent plus 1. Time is running out.

Another major issue is the fact, as Murphy points out, that Alberta is landlocked. It would need to run an “independent” pipeline to tidewater, clearly through the adjoining province of British Columbia, for which approval may not be readily forthcoming. But Alberta wields a powerful bargaining chip. It is the land bridge from Eastern Canada to the Pacific Ocean which, if blockaded, would lead to economic tribulation for the country as a whole. A trade-off with British Columbia is far from inconceivable. In fact, it seems more than likely.

There is yet another significant political development to consider, one which has international ramifications. I refer not only to the perennial struggle between the radical Left and the conservative Right, which is embedded in history and is a function of the human psyche, but to its current instantiation. The seismic conflict we are now witnessing involves two great socioeconomic forces arrayed against one another for political dominance across the planet. These may be described as the movement for one-world hegemony, as per the Great Reset and UN Agenda 2030 on the one hand, and the rise of national movements on the other, in other words, Globalism against Populism. 

The former conceives itself as universal, the latter as revanchist. The former is proposed and backed by a coalition of billionaires, technocrats and political elites, the latter by ordinary people and patriotic citizens who feel disenfranchised and coerced. The Global orientation envisions the elimination of private property, the curtailment of private transportation, surveillance of entire populations, and top-down dirigiste control of subservient nations. The populist revolution, in contrast, envisages local autonomy for peoples that recognize a common heritage and tradition, that defend the principles of free speech, religious belief, and assembly, and that demand political and economic control of their own affairs. The Global initiative advances the belief in “climate change” and the necessity of expunging the fossil-fuel energy industry at whatever cost. Populism believes it can balance economic benefits with environmental concerns.

The conflict is heating up as we speak. At the same time that the Globalist phenomenon is being enacted by a pluto-techno cabal with its headquarters in Davos, populist sentiment is erupting in many different locales around the world—Scotland, Spain/Catalonia, the U.K. (Brexit), the U.S. (Texit), and elsewhere. According to the Institute for Global Change, “Between 1990 and 2018, the number of populists in power around the world has increased a remarkable fivefold, from four to 20. This includes countries not only in Latin America and in Eastern and Central Europe—where populism has traditionally been most prevalent—but also in Asia and in Western Europe.

Within the present Canadian context, the federal perspective under Justin Trudeau is Globalist, heavily influenced by the Great Reset and what its main proponent Klaus Schwab calls the “fourth industrial revolution.” The Wexit movement in Alberta is plainly populist, consisting, in the words of the Institute for Global Change, of “hard-working victims of a state run by special interests and outsiders as political elites [who are seen] as the primary enemy of the people.”

Alberta for the Albrtans.

In the war between these two world-historical forces, global hegemony and local sovereignty, the Great Reset and nationalist populism—assuming nothing changes—Alberta will have to choose. If it goes the route of separation, it stands to reason that the rest of the country may begin to break up into several states, comprising the Maritime provinces, Newfoundland and Labrador, Quebec, Ontario/Manitoba, British Columbia, and the three northern territories, Nunavut, Yukon and Northwest Territories, combining as a single federation.

In my estimation, Canada was never a coherent, overarching polity; the fault lines were always evident, incised by competing regional visions and needs, power imbalances, economic disparities and profound linguistic strife. Its eventual disintegration was probably foreordained. The break between the Eastern elites and the Western heartland is likely irremediable. There is certainly little sympathy in the rest of the country for Alberta’s plight. A recent Angus Reid poll shows that Alberta (and Saskatchewan) “will be fighting the battle to save the Keystone XL pipeline project on their own as the rest of Canada says it’s time to move on.”

Without the energy resources and capital generated by Alberta (and Saskatchewan), one wonders where the rest of the country can move on to? A Fraser Institute study finds that transfer payments make up over 27 percent of Atlantic Canada’s GDP, and that Alberta, with a diminishing tax base and a growing deficit, has financed most of the funds going to the Atlantic provinces and to Quebec. A myopic Canada does not understand that you can’t squeeze money from a dry well or that money does not drop from turbine blades.

In any event, given a Liberal-Marxist administration, a Leftist and parasitic New Democratic Party, a fantasy-driven Green Party, and a feckless Conservative Party that has sold its birthright as an electoral strategy, the choice would seem to me inevitable.